Friday, November 24, 2017

Insect Based Diet- another reason

Many countries around the world have known that many different kinds of bugs are very useful as food. They are extremely easy and efficient to raise, and they are excellent sources of protein. Recent research shows that adding a specific insect to hens' diets can have large effects on their production of eggs. Two groups of hens were used. One group was given a soybean based diet, the other a insect based diet (specifically Hermetia illucens). H. illucens is exceptionally high in proteins and chitin. After a 21 week span, both groups were healthy, showing no signs of sickness or disease. The production of eggs, quantitatively, was unaltered. The hens given the insect diet, however, did show changes in the nutritional properties of the eggs.

The first indication of change within the hens was a change in the cecal microbiota, or bacterial composition of the gut. The insect diet had developed different levels of certain bacterias. This makes sense because different bacteria can break down different things better than others. As a result of this, less obviously, metabolic functions were increased. Furthermore, the diet induced more diversity within the cecal microbiota. It is thought by some, that more diversity can have a symbiotic relationship with the host animal, making a healthier host. The increased metabolic functions of the microbiota has played a key role in breaking down of polysaccharides and increased production of short chain fatty acids.
Countries around the world already include insects in both their diet and the diets of their livestock. With their large amounts of protein compared to the energy, time and space needed to raise them, it is obvious why they would be incorporated into our diets. It leaves many wondering if it is time we join with those countries and change the way that we get many of our nutrients.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Genetically modifying grapevines

Image result for australian winegrapes
Genes in grapevine roots have expressed a limit on sodium.  A team from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Energy Biology were the ones to find and explore this occurrence in grapevines.  This study is important to wine makers because berries that have too much sodium are not good to make wine with.  This will have many owners of vineyard lose money because people will not come and pick the grapes for the wine, resulting in a lose of income.  More salt in grapevines will hurt the grapes, and give them an unpleasant taste when turned into wine.  Low levels of sodium in grape have been known to give off a better taste.  Dr. Jake Dunlevy from CSIRO found a specific gene that helps grapes resist the intake of sodium from their shoots.  This in turn will help them start to genetically modify these grapevines into breeding them with sodium tolerant rootstocks.  This all can be done with it is still a seed.  This saves the grapevines from having to be measured of their salt while they are growing.  Researches from all over are trying to genetically modify the DNA of grapevines now.  Places such as the United States and Europe have always had wine grapes grown there.  Australia and other places now have better options to help grow wine grapes, by supporting a breeding program.  This will have them combining the beneficial genes in grapevines to produce the best kind.  They will also be bred to perfectly serve in the Australian environment.  Doing this will help save Australia a lot of money because the level of salt in grapevines has cost about $1 billion dollars for Australia agriculture.  Genetically modifying and breeding grapevines will overall improve the taste of Australian wine, and some them money on agriculture.

Effects of Stress on Telomere

Stressful experiences during childhood has an effect on telomere length in adulthood.  Experiencing stress in adulthood can decrease the length of a telomere later in life, but the stress experienced during childhood has the greatest effect.  Telomeres play a role on aging.  Having a shorter telomere has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and early death.  A long telomere on the other hand has been linked to increase of major cancers.  In a study of 4600 people over the age of 50 had their telomere lengths analyzed.  These participants also took a questionnaire on potentially impactful situations.  The stress cumulated over their lifetime seemed to increase the chance of a shorter telomere by six percent.  Not all possibilities of stress were examined.   This research has led towards focusing on young children for effects on telomeres.

What makes dogs so friendly? Study finds genetic link to super outgoing people?

Scientists have pinpointed out that genetics has something to do with dogs being so friendly. Using clues from humans with genetic disorders that them unusually friendly. Some of the DNA in dogs link personality. A team confirmed that dogs are friendlier than wolves by comparing the behavior of 18 dogs; purebred  and mixed. Researchers then went to humans with Williams Bueren syndrome, a developmental disorder that leads to mental disorder but giving them an appearance that make the person look very trusting and friendly. This syndrome is due to the loss part of chromosome 7. Observations  showed that hypersocial dogs had more DNA disruption then more aloof wolves. The disruption on a gene from a protein called GTF21  which regulates the activity of other genes which associates with the most social dogs. The lack of changes in the gene leads to aloof wolflike behavior. In the article it goes to say how Humans too have high sociability relative to other primate. Humans and dogs use the same genes for these social behaviors. This study is still at work. For this research  to continue for they are looking for this gene behavior connection in other populations of dogs and more individuals. I found this article really interesting because I would not thought that dogs personalities had anything to do with their DNA. Even the fact that humans would have that same gene connection linking them together on a friendly wavelength.

You're only smart because of genetics!

The article, "Genes don't just influence your IQ - they determine how well you do in school", mentioned that there have been previous studies on how a person's IQ is highly influenced by genetic factors and what genes played a role. This new study focused more on the performance in school and if a child's drive to learn is genetically linked. Researchers of King's College London analyzed 83 different traits from more than 11,000 pairs of twins (identical and fraternal) born in the United Kingdom between 1994 and 1996. In order to measure this study, twins and their parents filled out a questionnaire based on health, how much each individual liked school, and how hard they worked in school. Afterwards, researchers collected data on how well each individual did on a standardized exam called General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exam. It was found that 9 general groups of traits that were highly heritable, but the researchers still don't know what specific genes are the influence factors. It's difficult to pinpoint what genes because there are hundreds of genes acting together. Future studies will hopefully be able to identify these genes, which would help diagnose and treat learning disabilities. It is predicted that a similar study in less-developed countries will differ significantly because the children don't have equal access to education and academic achievement is "shaped more by opportunities than genetics." Stated in the article, it is important to understand why children differ in academic achievements because everyone differs in the way they learn and their drive for learning. This allows school districts to personalize classrooms for children to learn in different ways that best fits their personalities.
I loved reading this article because I have 3-year experience working at a childcare facility and I got to see in front of my eyes how different every child learns. Their drive to learn is fueled by either hands-on, demonstration, visual, listening, enthusiasm, games, one-on-one, etc. I also noticed that some learn faster than others. I was always the extra teacher in the room, who was assigned to work with a child one-on-one and I learned that they were more encouraged when I was enthusiastic and when I gave them a "good job" or a high five after they completed a task. As I looked around the room, all the kids would be at various learning stations; some would be at the iPads playing learning games, some played bingo with shapes, and some did worksheets. Every child learns differently and they should have the access to a more personalized education that assists their learning in ways that will allow them to succeed in school.

Using CRISPR to produce crops?

In the past, humans have grown plants and hand selected the traits that they wanted to keep producing. Although that has worked for producing crops that taste, look, and are the size that we would like the method doesn't work when environmental factors come into play. This year the U.S. has experienced it's lowest number of wheat harvested in the past 15 years. Why? The climate, along with pests and diseases are ruining the wheat grains. Scientists are looking at using CRISPR which allows for gene editing in order to create wheat grains that are stronger and can survive these environmental factors. Asia and Africa are also seeing this same issue but with their rice harvests. However, the food industry is nervous about how consumers are going to react to CRISPR being used on their food. After all, foods from GMO caused a lot of controversy. Whether or not CRISPR can be used to fix the issues we've been seeing in our crops is up to the science and societies acceptance.

The idea of using CRISPR is so new to us that I can see why scientists are hesitant to use the method on food. I think scientists should try to find other ways to naturally fix the harvest issues, and if they can't they should try the CRISPR method in a controlled setting and see how it works. I think that the public will eventually accept the CRISPR method for their food if they see the potential benefits it can have. However, the food industry hasn't always done whats best for the consumer so convincing the public will definitely be much harder now that they have lost their trust.

Head injuries can alter hundreds of genes and lead to serious brain diseases

By studying how brain trauma affects the hippocampus of rats, researchers from UCLA have recently identified master regulator genes that influence genes linked to a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders. In this experiment, rats were observed on their performance in a maze. The experimental group were given a fluid to produce a concussion-like brain injury whereas the control did not have brain injuries. When analyzed in the maze after the brain injuries, the group of rats 25% longer to figure out the maze. The researchers then drew RNA from the hippocampus of the rats and leukocytes, and they found 268 genes were altered in the hippocampus and 1215 genes in the leukocytes were changed. This discovery presents the potential for a blood test after brain injury to determine the possibility of a person developing a neurological and/or psychiatric disorder such as Alzheimer's.
This discovery not only is suggestive of a blood test for brain injury patients, but it also opens a window to develop novel treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders caused by brain injuries. The UCLA researchers also show how crucial the hippocampus is based on the master regulator genes. In recent news, the first discovery of CTE in a NFL football player was found and this study further shows how detrimental brain damage is. While not all brain injuries are preventable such as accidents, the professional sports industry should take more precautions with this information.

Cancer cells and how they spread

Image result for cancer spreading

            Our limited understanding of how metastasis begins makes finding ways to stop it hugely challenging. The article I chose discusses a new study that was done that may provide more insight into this.
The researchers at the University of California discovered how the surrounding environment of a tumor can cause cancer cells to metastasize. To understand this, you first have to understand how metastatic cancer occurs, which is when a cancer cell breaks away from a primary tumor and moves to another area of the body usually but not limited to the bones, liver, or the lungs. In their study, they built a 3-D collagen matrix, which gave them the ability to get an in depth look at the migration activity of various types of human cancers. By doing this the researchers found that a condense environment caused the cancer cells to activate a distinct set of genes, of a “gene module” which they later named collagen-induced network phenotype.
This article captured my attention because cancer is a huge thing in our world and it is taking many people’s lives. Therefore, the better we understand these tumors and how they are metastasizing, the better chance we have at finding a cure, or finding a better road to recovery for those that suffer from it.